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SAMHSA report conveys hard-line view on smokeless tobacco

June 1, 2017
by Gary A. Enos, Editor
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The prevalence of smokeless tobacco use in the U.S., is remaining steady at a time when cigarette smoking is decreasing, according to a new report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

The report states that from 2002-2014, the prevalence of past-month smokeless tobacco use among individuals ages 12 and older generally held steady at just over 3%, while past-month cigarette smoking dropped from 26% to 21%.

Recent discussions of the health risks of smokeless tobacco have featured debate over a request by the maker of Swedish “snus” products to have its products classified by the federal government as a Modified Risk Tobacco Product that is safer than cigarettes. But SAMHSA's announcement of its new report doesn't appear to embrace that view.

“Smokeless tobacco causes oral, esophageal, and pancreatic cancer,” the SAMHSA announcement states. “And like cigarette smoking, smokeless tobacco contains nicotine and is addictive.”

The report also found that young adults ages 18 to 26 have the highest levels of smokeless tobacco use, and men are considerably more likely than women to use smokeless tobacco.